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Granting Students a Clean Slate by Forgiving Bad GPAs

Everyone deserves a second chance, right? Especially when it comes to something as important, and potentially transforming, as a college degree.

Some colleges in the Philadelphia area are now operating on that philosophy. An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week describes several schools that have academic forgiveness programs that allow returning students to start over and reset their grade point averages.

Administrators at Camden County College were among those welcoming back drop outs, while Community College of Philadelphia, Bucks County Community College, Rutgers University, and Rowan University were described as reaching out to students who left campuses because of academic struggles.

College leaders say higher education is vital in today's job market, and programs that let students start over can make all the difference in their future. Giving students a second chance could help increase students' degree and certificate completion rates, helping the country meet President Obama's goal of regaining the lead in college graduates. Today, just 40 percent of those who enter community college finish with a degree.

George Boggs, president and chief executive officer for the American Association of Community Colleges, says academic forgiveness programs are fairly common and a good idea.

"Many young people start college unprepared and often lack the maturity and perhaps motivation to do well. All too often, they drop out, leaving a trail of withdraw grades that turn into failures," says Boggs. "Academic forgiveness programs can give them a fresh start and help them to complete their programs and become more productive citizens."

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